Without PWM, waiter charts his own path


F&B worker

$3,500 monthly salary

After almost a decade in the F&B industry, Peter, 32, now earns a gross monthly salary of about $3,500 - more than double what the O-level holder received when he first joined the industry in 2011.

And he has done it all, from waiter to bartender and now supervisor.

Latest publicly available data shows that the median gross monthly salary of a waiter was $1,696, according to the Ministry of Manpower's Occupational Wages Survey in 2019.

The same survey found that the median gross monthly salary of a waiter supervisor or captain waiter was $2,350.

Peter's current salary is higher than the median, and he achieved this without the help of the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), which will soon be introduced in the industry.

But it was not an easy climb, said Peter, who declined to provide his full name so as not to jeopardise his future employment prospects.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said he joined the F&B industry two years after completing his national service.

Before joining the F&B sector, Peter worked for two years at a forklift servicing company managed by his brother-in-law.

"After that, someone I knew was opening a restaurant and they were hiring. So I decided to try it out," he said.

When he first started out as a waiter, Peter received a gross monthly salary of $1,600 to $1,800.

In the beginning, he had little bargaining power over his salary as he lacked experience and skills.

So he decided to gain experience in different roles, including bartending.

For F&B workers like him, moving up the wage ladder involves changing employers.

"If you want a salary that reflects your ability and experience, then you have to always look for a new employer that is willing to offer a higher one," he said.

He added that he is comfortable with his current salary, and is currently saving up to start his own restaurant in six to seven years.

Implementing the PWM in the F&B industry would benefit new entrants looking to join it, said Peter.

"At least they won't have to start from the bottom," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2021, with the headline 'Without PWM, waiter charts his own path'. Subscribe